Frequently Asked Questions
Written by Ofir Zwebner, in collaberation with Lasse Ødegård.
Updated: July 7th
- When and where was Camel originally formed?
- Who gave Camel their name? Why Camel?
- Which of the original members has remained in the group?
- Why did Doug Ferguson leave Camel in 1976?
- Why did Peter Bardens leave Camel in 1978?
- Why did Andy Ward leave Camel following the Nude album?
- So wasn't there any other stable lineup?
- Who has played in Camel trough the years?
- What are Bardens, Ward and Ferguson doing now?
- Why, as the years have gone on, has Andrew stuck with the name "Camel"?
- To what extent is Camel really a 'band' effort? How much did Mickey Simmons contribute to Harbour of Tears?
- Whatever happened in those 'lost' years between 1985 and 1991?
- Are there any Camel rare unreleased tracks?
- Did Andrew Latimer create any music outside Camel?
- Who is Susan Hoover and how does she relate to Camel?
Fame and Success
- Why haven't Camel had any commercial success?
- Which is the most successful album?
- Did Camel ever have a hit single?
- What's the most popular Camel song?
The Production Company
- What is this Camel Productions?
- Can we build up hopes to hear more of Camel? Is the production company doing well?
- Is there a new album coming up?
- How can I order the new albums?
- Is Camel still touring?
- Why weren't there any songs from Stationary Traveller played on the 1997 and 1992 tours?
... And Questions that fall under no other subject
- I'm a Camel newbie. Which album is mostly recommended?
- What's with that cigarette brand name and logo?
- Why is Caravan often mentioned along with Camel?
When and where was Camel originally formed?
Andrew, Andy and Doug met Peter Bardens in Hampstead (North London) on 20th September 1971.
Their first gig was on October 8th 1971, in Belfast as "On". This was due to Peter Bardens'
obligation to Transatlantic Records. Camel's first public appearance took place at the
Waltham Forest Technical College, supporting Wishbone Ash, in December 4th, 1971.
Who gave Camel their name? Why Camel?
None of the members can really remember. They had many names and this is what they ended up with.
The Mirage newsletter claims Bardens came up with the name, but this information is unreliable.
Which of the original members has remained in the group?
Of the original Camel lineup, only Andy Latimer has remained. The original group lasted
about five years and released four studio albums. Doug Ferguson, who
played bass, was the first to leave in 1976, feeling uncomfortable with the jazzier sound Camel
were aiming at. Peter Bardens left in 1978 in pursuit of a solo career. Barden had guest appeared
in one track on The Single Factor and on the Pressure Points live
album. Andy Ward, the drummer, was the last original member to leave Camel, back in 1982.
Why did Doug Ferguson leave Camel in 1976?
Doug Ferguson left Camel just before the recordings of Rain Dances were started. The band wanted to move on toward jazzier
music, especially Andy Ward. Doug felt uncomfortable with that, and eventually chose to quit.
Why did Peter Bardens leave Camel in 1978?
Andrew Latimer explains:
Peter and I always get on well when creating, but the
problems started when we came to the actual
execution of the ideas. In the studio, Peter and I were
just stifling each other. I wouldn't let him get any of his
ideas out and he wouldn't let me get any of mine out,
so it became pretty heavy going. We mutually agreed
to part company on the creative level. Richard and
Andy wanted to stay with me, so Peter went. I think it
was a very good move for both of us.
Bardens left Camel in 1978, after the recordings of the Breathless album were finished.
The last track on the album, Rainbow's End, is dedicated to him.
Why did Andy Ward leave Camel in 1982?
For many years, the official reason was, as written in The Single Factor liner notes, a hand injury.
The truth was let out in an interview Ward gave to the Q Magazine in 1991; Ward, being unable to cope with
the pressure he was under, suffered from alchoholism and made a suicide attempt by cutting his wrist.
Although he has made many attempts to recover since, all the people involved feel that his rejoining an
active group such as Camel would be too difficult for him to handle. Andy has been playing with
lower-key groups that hopefully will let him express his ability without harming himself. It appears that for
these reasons Ward will never play with Camel again. This notification
has been approved for publication by Camel Productions, as all the people involved believe it to be
best told than kept secret.
So wasn't there any other stable lineup?
Camel's lineup has been constantly changing since 1977. The 1977 lineup, featuring
Mel Collins and Richard Sinclair seemed stable enough, but has changed after releasing two studio
albums (Rain Dances and Breathless) and four tracks of Camel's
first live release, A Live Record. Mel Collins kept guest appearing on almost
every album till 1984's Pressure Points. Colin Bass has been in Camel since I Can See Your House From Here in 1979, although he didn't participate in the sessions of The Single Factor and Stationary Traveller.
Susan Hoover has been writing lyrics and providing album concepts since Nude in 1982,
and has become Andy Latimer's wife.
Who has played in Camel trough the years?
Well... Lot's of people. Better consult the Camel
from the Moonmadness site.
What are Bardens, Ward and Ferguson doing now?
The location listed in the previous answer should answer this, but you can also check out Members Section in the Skylines Camel Web Site site.
Why, as the years have gone on, has Andy stuck with the name "Camel"?
Andy considered dropping the name at one point, but is was the fans writing to him, asking
him not to do so.
To what extent is Camel really a 'band' effort? How much did Mickey Simmonds contribute to Harbour of Tears?
The participanting musicians always contribute their indelible stamp on the feel and sound of Camel's albums. Colin's Bass is
most evident through the years. Simmonds' contribution to Harbour of Tears left much to be desired, but he simply wasn't able to find the time.
Whatever happened in those 'lost' years between 1985 and 1991?
Latimer was troubled with legal problems. Camel were sued by their first manager,
Geoff Jukes, for past commissions. Latimer, being the only original member left in
Camel, had to defend it from 1982 until 1987. Susan Hoover had by then
discovered that royalties from Camel's back catalog were not being paid to Camel,
and Latimer had to sue Gama Records (Goeff Jukes and Max Hole's company). Latimer won
both cases but received no financial gain. Andy and Susan Hoover left for the US in 1988. Dust
and Dreams was conceived by the end of 1985, but Latimer wasn't able to persuade any company
to produce it. Hoover and Latimer then formed Camel Productions, and
it was finally released in April 1991, with the second part of the original piece completely
re-written. Dust and Dreams was virtually recorded in England, California and Holland
(where Ton Scherpenzeel lives).
Typical of these lost years is that almost every company that ever had their right to distribute
Camel's music has done it. Four (4!) collections were released between 1985 and 1991, while
no new material was released.
Are there any Camel rare unreleased tracks?
Quite a few, most notably River Man and Nobody Knows. Please consult the Rarities page.
Did Andrew Latimer create any music outside Camel?
Latimer has been involved in several projects. He played on several tracks with Doug
Ferguson in his band's self-titled album, Headwaiter, and he toured Holland with
them ('just for the fun') in 1978.
Andrew also sang backing vocals on Peter Bardens' song On a Roll from his 1995 Big Sky album.
A collaboration of Latimer and Ton Scherpenzeel produced about ten pieces that never got
into recording stages. Andrew is featured on Ton's 1984 album Heart of the Universe along with Chris Rainbow. He also co-wrote the track "Wheels".
Future collaboration is doubtful as Ton won't fly at all.
The BBC used some Camel
music, yet attempts at writing for television never came through.
Antony Phillips and Latimer
wrote some stuff together somewhere in 1987: A Range Rover advert and a short piece called
Drive for a golfing video. Latimer also helped Philips on an album (Open
Secrets?) he was doing with Dennis
Quinn in 1988. Future collaborations, as with Ton's, are doubtful due to the physical distances.
Andy played on several tracks on Francis Monkman's album Dweller on the
He did a single with Chris Thompson (of Manfred Mann) and Hazel
O'Connor for a greenpeace album.
Fiona Hibbert, a harp player, did a cover of Landscapes, and andrew played piano on
Who is Susan Hoover and how does she relate to Camel?
Susan Hoover interviewed Andrew Latimer for her radio show, back in 1976. Since 1981's "Nude" and onward, Susan
provided concept and lyrics for Camel's album. Susan married Andrew Latimer in [?] and they live today in Mountain View, California.
Why haven't Camel had any commercial success?
This question commonly rises among devoted fans; How could this
fantastic progressive rock group remain unknown, even among
progressive music fans. This will perhaps remain a mystery.
Camel were distributed under the Deram label which also released other
"proggies" such as The Moody Blues and Caravan, yet its status drew back
compared with the rising of labels such as EMI, Charisma, Virgin and
Atlantic who released some successful prog bands.
The band never saw it's way into producing popular music, yet were
pushed toward it by the record company, which released singles of
tracks that were never really considered by the band to hit the
charts. This attempt to create hit songs is most obvious in The Single Factor, an album
Latimer himself doesn't feel too satisfied with till this day.
It wouldn't be fair to say there wasn't any commercial success, Camel
toured extensively for many years, and the band's reformation in 1991
was followed by tremendous success under an independent label. Camel
seems to be more satisfied with personal contact with their fans
and releasing one album every several years (but with better
production values). For Camel, as well as the fans, this is perhaps
all the success that is needed.
Which is the most successful album?
The Snow Goose went gold, and still sells very well. Of CP's releases, Dust and Dreams has sold the best, probably
due to having been out since 1991. Also, Harbour of Tears has succeeded far beyond CP's expectations.
Did Camel ever have a hit single?
Though obviously aiming at it at one point or another, Latimer admits Camel never had a
hit single. According to him, it was mostly the 'Record Company' who bothered to release some songs
What's the most popular Camel song?
This could somehow be estimated: The sequence of Rhayarder and Rhayader Goes to Town appear on 3 live albums and 4 compilations, and also received some radio air play, so perhaps it's reasonable to say this is the most popular Camel song.
The most favourite live song is Never Let Go which appears on 3 live albums and one compilation. It's runner ups are perhaps Lady Fantasy and Sasquatch, both being quite popular on compilations as well.
Freefall, A Song Within a Song, Echoes, Drafted, Lies seem to be of the more popular among the collections and compilations.
Down on the Farm is certainly an oddball: Being a typical Richard Sinclair foolish song on a non-typically Sinclair band brought some diverse opinions about the Breathless album as whole. Some people love it, some people can't stand it. What's certain is that nobody can hear it without stopping to come up with an opinion...
What is this Camel Productions?
Camel Productions is the independent company Susan Hoover and Andy Latimer formed
in California. As written in answer (8), After years of attempts to find a record company that would release Dust and Dreams
the couple decided that the only way to do it was to form their own record company. Camel Productions
operates only for Camel.
Can we build up hopes to hear more of Camel? Is the production company doing well?
Every profit Camel makes (from Sales of new albums and from the back catalog, live performances and merchandise) is poured into Camel Production. After more than a decade, Camel Productions seems thriving.
Is there a new album coming up?
Camel's next studio album, A Nod and a Wink is expected to be released during the summer of 2002.
How can I order the new albums?
I compiled a page of Camel Production's CD catalog and prices. The page has a list of online retailers who sell Camel CDs.
Is Camel still touring?
Camel's last tour during late 2000 and early 2001 was burdened with misfortune, but gave the band great satisfaction. Camel Productions reports a world tour is expected by the end of 2002.
Why weren't there any songs from Stationary Traveller played on the 1997 and 1992 tours?
A few suggestions implied that it was Chris Rainbow's vocals, characteristic of the Stationary Traveller 1984 tour, which were all sung in a range that was difficult for both Andrew Latimer and Colin Bass voices. But this suggestion is probably wrong as only two songs from ST were originally sung by Rainbow. Susan Hoover's official reply:
"They didn't perform anything from Stationary Traveller. No real reason; the material just didn't fit into the set time or flow-wise.
I'm a Camel newbie, which album is mostly recommended?
Tough question. As observed recently in the Camelogue mailing list, Camel's fans
vary in their opinions. This may give some hints (though I'd appreciate further notes from other
people!). I've mentioned various bands here (out of my own repertoire) - this is not to say that Camel sounds like them, but rather give a general direction for musical spheres.
- For all of you who appreciate concept albums, better check out: The Snow Goose, Nude, Stationary Traveller, Dust and Dreams, Harbour of Tears. All these albums are based on novels and short stories.
- If you're into symphonic progressive rock, such as middle 70's Genesis and Pink Floyd, then 1975's The Snow Goose and 1976's Moonmadness may fit you just right.
- D'you like Alan Parsons Project? Well, most of that band (and some of its spirit) is featured on Stationary Traveller and The Single Factor.
- How about this ancient progressive rock, with the rough edge sound and tight Organ/Guitar interplays (Nektar would be fine, as well as some instrumental Jethro Tull and Focus)? Better check out Mirage and Camel, their debut. An updated version of all that is featured on some tracks of I Can See Your House From Here.
- If you like Caravan or Hatfield and the North, then you'll find Richard Sinclair's jazzy presence and typical approach to life on Rain Dances, and even more on its follower, Breathless. If however you liked those bands for its instrumental interplays, I suggest you'd look for camel's first four albums w/o sinclair, Camel, Mirage, The Snow Goose and Moonmadness
- There is some impressive guitar work on almost every Camel album. Better check out Moonmadness, Breathless, I Can See Your House From Here, Nude and Dust and Dreams, as well as the double live album, Never Let Go.
- How about a little orchestration? The Snow Goose, Nude, I Can See Your House From Here and Harbour of Tears have it, some more some less.
- Clannad and Enya are your among your favourites? Camel's roots in the spirit of Ireland are heavily featured in Harbour of Tears.
- Live Records - Never Let Go stands out with it's outstanding sound quality and the musician's technical ability. It is arguably the bands best recorded live album. It's also arguably one of the best live albums in Progressive Rock. It's also arguably the best album to start with if you haven't heard Camel before. It is also arguable.
- Most arguable albums: Give us your own opinion after you've heard Breathless and Stationary Traveller.
- Best Video: There are only two. I recommend Total Pressure for being about an hour longer. The video and audio quality is fair, but the alternative video is only a little better.
- What collection should you buy? I'd rather have the whole catalog and make my own collections... A Compact Compilation is a terrific presentation of Camel's albums from 1974 to 1977, but once you'll have it I suppose you'd like to have the original releases. Echoes is certainly the widest, most extensive collection.
What's with all that cigarette brand name and logo?
There isn't any connection between the band Camel and the Camel cigarette brand.
The cigarette pack is immitated in the UK release of the Mirage album, and the camel image associated with
Camel Productions looks very much like the cigarette logo, but hey, it's an side-view image of a Camel... what else would you expect?!
Why is Caravan often mentioned along with Camel?
Although Camel wasn't really a "Canterbury band", it was considered for may years to fit in the same musical field that included bands such as Soft Machine, Caravan, Gong, Hatfield and the North, National Health and more, because in
its early years Camel music style had something in common. In 1977, Richard Sinclair (previously of Caravan and Hatfield and the North) was invited to play bass,
and by 1978 Jan Schelhaas and Dave Sinclair (which have both been keyboard players in Caravan) have joined the band for a live tour. The link to Caravan is therefore quite notable.
Camel relates in very same ways to Alan Parson Project, who's musicians David Paton, Chris Rainbow and Stuart Tosh were also featured on some Camel releases and live tours.
Skylines - Camel Web Page - created by Ofir Zwebner